New Delhi: The Supreme Court has issued notices to the Central Government, ONGC, Cairn Energy and Vedanta Resources on a petition that seeks criminal investigation and scrapping of the Cairn-Vedanta deal that has allegedly caused huge loss to ONGC.
The government had approved the acquisition of majority stake of Cairn India by Vedanta. The petition was filed on the ground that the offer should have gone first to the state-owned PSU ONGC.
A bench of justices DK Jain and Anil R Dave issued notice to the Centre seeking its reply on the PIL which also sought an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) into the various aspects of the deal.
Earlier, on March 2, a bench of justices HL Dattu and CK Prasad had recused itself from hearing the plea.
The PIL filed by a Bangalore resident Arun Kumar Agarwal stated that the ONGC, in an agreement with Cairn group, had a clause that in case the Cairn Group wanted to sell its shares in Cairn India, it would first offer the same to the ONGC.
As per the clause, Cairn could sell its shares to other parties, only after the ONGC refused to buy the stake and the ONGC, thus had the right of first refusal (ROFR), it said.
It alleged that the decision on the deal had been made on "extraneous considerations" and without taking into account the relevant aspects.
The petition said had the ONGC, which was Cairn India's joint venture partner, been offered its ROFR for Cairn India's shares and had it exercised its right, the exchequer would have benefited by over Rs one lakh crore.
Cairn Energy, however, signed a deal with the Vedanta group to sell its shares in Cairns India, without making an offer to the ONGC, the PIL said.
Cairn India Ltd, a subsidiary of UK-based Cairns Energy, is the operator of the Rajasthan oil block.
It entered into an agreement with UK-based Vedanta Group on June 16, 2010 to sell 51 to 60 percent of its shares in Cairn India, for a consideration of around $ 8.5 billion, without offering the shares to its partner ONGC in the joint venture as per the agreement of right of first refusal, the PIL had stated.
Agarwal was also the first complainant in the 2G spectrum scam resulting in the lodging of the FIR.
(With additional information from PTI)